CSKA Moscow sent a message that echoed around the Euroleague by thrashing Lottomatica Roma 54-82 in Top 16, Group G on the road Thursday in the Italian capital. Instead of facing a four-way tie with a defeat, CSKA improved to 3-1 with Group G's only road win so far to take exclusive control of first place. Roma, meanwhile, dropped to 1-3 and will likely need to win its two remaining games to advance. Ramunas Siskauskas led the winners with 25 points in a near-perfect shooting performance, hitting 5 of 6 two-pointers, 3 of 3 triples and 6 of 7 free throws. Trajan Langdon added 14 points on 4-for-5 three-point shooting, while J.R. Holden had 11 points for CSKA and Theo Papaloukas dished 12 assists, tying a Top 16 record. Ibrahim Jaaber had 18 points for Roma while Erazem Lorbek added 14. CSKA shined on defense in the early going, limiting Roma to just 3 points on free throws in the game's first 7 minutes. Roma missed 9 shots and committed 5 turnovers while Langdon, David Andersen and Siskauskas gave CSKA a 3-21 lead. Papaloukas ran the show in the second quarter while an unstoppable Siskauskas boosted CSKA's margin to 25-48 at halftime. Back-to-back three-pointers by Siskauskas sealed the outcome, 27-57, early in the third quarter and CSKA worked on a high point margin the rest of the way in case it needs extra to win Group G.
Roma struggled from the opening tipoff to get decent shots, while at the other end, Andersen powered to the hoop and Holden hit a jumper for a quick 0-4 CSKA lead. Langdon buried a shot from the arc while Andersen added a fastbreak dunk to force a Roma timeout at 0-9. When action resumed, Lorbek drew a foul and made both free throws to finally put Roma on the board only to see Siskauskas quickly answer with a basket down low. Roma needed a spark, but only got David Hawkins splittiing a pair of free throws before Siskauskas hit both of his, Holden downed a jumper and Andersen dropped a jump-hook as CSKA soared ahead by 3-17. Roma kept struggling to find its first basket, missing 9 consecutive shots in the opening 7 minutes. Meanwhile, an unstoppable Siskauskas followed a five-meter jumper with free throws for a 3-21 CSKA advantage. Finally, Roberto Gabini stroked from downtown to spark the hosts, but Holden immediately answered from the same distance and Marcus Goree's two-handed dunk made it a 20-point game, 6-26, before CSKA settled for a 10-28 scoreboard after 10 minutes.
Nikos Zisis drew a foul and calmly made free throws for CSKA while Siskauskas fired again from downtown to start the second quarter with a 12-33 score. Onca again, Roma struggled to score for more than 2 minutes until Lorbek hit free throws. Papaloukas ran the show as a highlight reel with a huge driving basket and a feed to Siskauskas for a reverse layup, good for a 16-38 CSKA lead. Jaaber struck from the arc for Roma and Lorbek dropped a jump-hook. Jaaber kept it going with a fastbreak layup, giving Roma its first hope at 23-40 after 16 minutes. CSKA called on long-injured Matjaz Smodis, who answered with a jump-hook, his first Euroleague points since November. Jaaber scored again but he didn't find much help, while Goree dunked, Holden stole and Smodis score on CSKA's way to a 25-48 halftime margin.
Roma's Jon Stefansson scored his first basket on a fastbreak layup but missed the free throw that came with it and the hosts went scoreless for almost 3 minutes after that. CSKA kept using long possessions to keep the game clock running, while Siskauskas showed no signs of cooling off while burying back-to-back three pointers that broke the game open midway through the third quarter. He soon added a free throw to make it a 30-point game, 27-57. Jaaber scored for Roma and soon added a power layup but a three-pointer by Andersen kept CSKA way ahead, 33-62. Lorbek banked in a short jumper while Jaaber drilled a three-pointer and made an acrobatic layup, but all that could do was close the gap to 40-64 after 30 minutes.
Everything was clear by the time the final quarter started, but CSKA did not slow the pace. An outstanding Papaloukas kept trying to please the crowd with his court vision and leadership. He shined with a big three-point play and even when Lorbek tried to change things with a put-back layup, Papaloukas fed Langdon for a bomb from downtown. Papaloukas found Langdon for another triple, and yet another one in the next minute as the difference neared 30 points again, 44-73 with 6 minutes to go. Roko-Leni Ukic made most of Roma's chances after that, but it was too late since CSKA stayed focused until the final buzzer and cruised to a massive road win, the first by any team in Group G.
Thursday, March 6, 2008